• Accordians

    Playing accordion in London, clarinet in Bolzano… and visting bandoneon-makers in Limburg, Niedersachsen and Berlin

  • Bandoneon


Accordions, Mandolins, etc

In early 1970s North Antrim, C.L. Dallat played clarinet, alto-sax and piano in a number of jazz-influenced line-ups and hotel dance-bands while playing mandolin and accordion in folk and traditional sessions, continuing, after moving to London, to play piano in local West London clubs and wine-bars, in the ‘seventies, and in 1980’s cocktail bars …

Since becoming resident musician at the Troubadour’s Coffee-House Poetry readings in the late ‘nineties (see links page), apart from the odd ragtime/Twenties piano session, or ‘Sixties-style piano-and-mouth-harp gig, he has returned to button accordion and mandolin to provide a suitably European/Bohemian coffee-house ambience …

With the result that Cahal’s past ten years’ holidays have been spent collecting Klezmer music in Cracow, Budapest, Berlin, javas and swing-musettes in the streets around Paris-Bastille, Tex-Mex/Norteña in San Diego & San Francisco (south of 24th & Mission), and Tyrolean music in Bavaria, the Alto Adige and Carinthia. All of which has led to a parallel pursuit of bandoneon music …


Best-known as the classical tango accordion, the bandoneon resembles a large square (rather than octagonal) concertina. The typical 1920’s Buenos Aires orquesta tipica sports a front row of half-a-dozen-or-so seated bandonionistas instruments across their knees.

A more contemporary image is that of Astor Piazzolla — creator of Tango Nuevo — hunched over his elaborate, explosive instrument, dazzling with its full polychromatic orchestral range, with its moving, persuasive, startling dynamics.

Cahal has spent many years researching bandoneons and bandoneon music, visiting the last few craft makers in Europe (although most played in Argentina & Uruguay, almost all the instruments were traditionally made in the Niedersachsen towns of Carlsfeld and Klingenthal) and eventually commissioned his own design, with fingering adapted for players of French four-row accordion, a re-working of Charles Peguri’s 1920’s hybrid. Piazzolla played the classic bi-sonoric Enheitsbandonion system whose fingering is sufficiently complex for him, as the world’s leading exponent, to maintain that the devil himself must have invented the instrument!

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